Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Gigantes Hideaway Inn 2017 Experience

Finding a place to stay at when you are traveling can be really tricky. You don't know what surprises the place will bring you. It can either be good or bad things, right? Well, it's a good thing that information are available over the internet nowadays. You can search almost all places with recommendations from bloggers and backpackers so hindi ka nangangapa in the place you're going to.

Before our Gigantes trip, my sister and I looked for a nice place to stay. As I have mentioned on my previous posts, we would like to DIY as much as we can.

Gigantes Hideaway Inn is a famous place to stay in Gigantes Island. I would say famous because most travel bloggers who stayed here recommends the place.

Why Gigantes Hideaway Inn?


There were 3 resorts that my sister looked into: 

Gigantes Hideaway Inn - was really responsive on my text messages. They answered my questions although I felt bitin at some point since their answers weren't direct to the point. Probably because they were trying to offer packages and I am looking for a DIY fees, so it might be a reason they can't quote me a proper price. We later on decided to book their accommodations only since my sister managed to rent a local boat from a relative.

Rosewood Resort - was also on our list but they were really hard to contact. They respond to my text and facebook messages after a day or so which isn't really helpful if you're cramming to find an accommodation for your upcoming trip.

I also tried to contact Arjan Resort but they were closed during our trip due to family problem, says the person whom I sent a text message to.

To make sure we have a place to stay at, we settled in Hideaway Inn.

 Communication

 

Since the island doesn't have a phone coverage, except on a certain part of the island they called "Call Center" as other blog says, I was really worried that it will be hard to communicate with the hotel. I thought wrong since they reply to my messages quicker than the other two resorts.

During our stay, we weren't able to make calls or even texts since literally no phone signal is available. 

Packages 

 

Gigantes Hideaway Inn offers packages which includes Island Hopping including tour guide, Boat transfers, Full board meals (breakfast, Lunch and dinner) add accommodation of fan room. This complete package costs Php2,185/head per adult and kids 7 years old and above while 6 years old and below are free of charge. This package meant a public transportation from Estancia to Gigantes Island at 10am and 2pm the day of your arrival.

Since we were 10 pax at the time of my inquiry, and we weren't sure if we can make it to 10am public boat, I asked how much it will cost for a private boat for transfers and island hopping. This way, we could manage our own time and plan our own itinerary. The amount will be at Php2,500/head which we felt quite steep.

Accommodations

 

The Inn charges Php200/head for their fan room while additional Php500-1,100/per room (on top of the Php200/head) for air conditioned rooms. 

Originally, my sister booked an air conditioned room for Php1,100x4 adult (Php200/each) = Php1,900 while I found the Php200/head fan room comfortable since I want to experience the "probinsya style" which was a bad idea after all. Lol! I have Jami with me and it's quite humid at some point. One fan isn't enough for him and me plus Nanay who would stay in our room too. I decided to upgrade to air conditioned room at that instant. They offer rooms good for 3 or 4 occupants. Rooms good for 3 are rooms inside an old big house with 4 rooms, a huge living room, kitchen (with no equipment) and an outdated, dirty bathroom. I paid Php200x2 + 500 (for AC room) = Php900.

 

Rooms

 


The AC room for 3 persons gave us very basic things. It has 1 double bed and 1 single bed, a fan and an AC. We also have 3 pillows and a very small blanket. Hehe! You know I could live in this, di naman ako choosy. What's important for me is that, Jami can comfortably sleep at night. I wasn't just really happy with the restroom since it looked dirty, stinks, and old. It has a very old plastic drum that's broken and looked really dirty. No sink available but a broken and old mirror. The water supply isn't good so kelangan mo muna mag ipon ng water sa sirang drum before you can take a bath.

Nanay wasn't glad either since she doesn't want to stay in a very big house tapos walang katao-tao. Haha! Talk about scared of ghosts. 

The room given to us was a makeshift room made from wood. For me, it looked like an old dining space that was converted to a room. Our walls were made from woods that divided us from living room and the kitchen. I wasn't happy since there were three other rooms in the house and it seem to be deserted so I can't understand why we can't occupy that.

Meanwhile, my sister's room that are good for 4 occupants looked better and they have their own restroom. I forgot to mention that electricity is only available from late afternoon to 6am the next day so to make the room cooler, you can open the windows and doors in the morning. You'll just have additional guests by then - the flies. =D 

Food

 


Included on Hideaway's package are the full board meals. They would refer to it as Buffet style but when we were there, it was plated, so it was Buffet-plated meal. They serve seafood only so if you are a fan of seafood, then it's a feast. For some who aren't, it's kinda tricky. For I am a very picky eater, I had trouble liking the food since it's very new to me. Lol! I don't eat a lot when traveling so it wasn't an issue anyway. I'm sorry for I have no photos of their food. I will work on it on my future travel. =) Their buffet-plated meal are for php185/head which includes 3-4 types of seafood viand and rice. Gigantes are rich in scallops, fishes and squids so expect that these are the food they would likely to serve.


Services

 


One thing that I am not really happy about was their services. When we came to Bulubadiang Island, where their hotel extension is, a guy approached my sister and said that he was the tour guide assigned to us for our entire stay. Since we have our own boat and the boatmen/relatives could take and tour us to our destinations, we opted not to take a tour guide from Hideaway Inn. We advised him that we only wanted the accommodations and that we will take care of our island hopping etc. He said it was okay so we proceed with our island hopping and went to Hideaway Inn in the late afternoon for check in. 

Since our relative brought food with them, we asked them to cook it for us for a fee of Php150. Came dinner, we asked what they have in their menu that we can order. They then asked if we have our tour guide because he's also in charge of everything like food, accommodation, etc. So meaning, the tour guide isn't just for touring you around but also in-charge of everything you might require. Because we wanted to DIY and didn't opt for a tour guide, we ended up with only ourselves with everything we need in the resort. We asked if we can buy whatever they can cook for us but since they offer "Buffet" food, we could only buy if there are extra serving. 

It was kinda frustrating knowing that they can't help us with our requests because we only paid for accommodation and not their "package". They were expecting our own boatmen to assist us throughout. Pano naman mangyayari yun? Our boatmen doesn't work in the resort. It's as if they were trying to explain to us that we need to get a tour guide if we want them to assist us. We were leaving early next day, it won't be practical to get one either. We contented ourselves with the food brought by our relatives and ordered two of their "buffet-plated" meal. 

We checked out early next day so we can go back to Estancia port before lunch. We asked how much do we have to pay in total and noticed they weren't organize at all. They are not even sure how many food we took on lunch. We paid them and just before we left the hotel, a lady approached us and said we haven't paid the drinks we took for dinner. I can't believe it wasn't even included on the final bill we paid. Anyhow, I was really glad we're leaving since I can no longer tolerate the services.

My Take 

 


These were our experience of the resort. It may be different from others who took their packages. It seemed that they advertise their packages too much, they failed to offer good services for those who prefer DIYs. Or probably because they thought we were locals because of our relatives and our own boat so they lack the assistance and services they usually provide to tourists. Even so, would it only be fair to treat every guests fairly?

If I will be asked if I'll recommend the resort? No I won't. I will not go back there at all.

I loved Gigantes Island and there's so much I have yet to see but I'll sure try other resorts. We were told by our relatives that the owner was the first tourism officer of Gigantes Island so it was probably the reason why it was so famous, but then there were other resorts that looked well-maintained.

When we went to Gigantes Island, I lowered the expectations of the resorts since it wasn't like the ones that we see in Manila. I am totally aware that this will be a pobinsya-like way and that I have no complaint on that. I just thought that based on the reviews that I have read from other bloggers, that this resort will give us a homey and stress-free stay. For the amount we pay, the resort is not well-maintained. Oh by the way, the tour guides were having their drinking session on their mini bar while we eat dinner. At first I was thinking there were guests too, but later on realize that they weren't.

Please also note that their swimming pool is no longer available. If it is, I tell you, it's really small. I wasn't even in the mood to take pictures of the resort because I don't recommend it at all.

This summarize our stay on Gigantes Hideaway Inn. This is not to ruin their nice online reviews since this resort's target customers are those who are backpacking. For family with kids, look elsewhere or get a tour guide and pay more so they could accommodate your concerns.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Family Trials

You know, I really love the month of June!

Aside from it being my birth month, I felt I receive more trials during this time of year, every year.

Hahaha! Exage! But yes, that's what I usually feel whenever my birthday comes.

The past couple of weeks, I was really stressed. Although we received good news too, I can't keep being happy for too long because of other things that we have to face.

Well, instead of dwelling into those negative things, I'll share with you those that are good ones. Sabi nga nila diba? Don't dwell on negativity. Be happy and the universe will conspire to make your wishes come true.

Char! Ako lang nag imbento nyan, but sort of like that yung mga kasabihan diba? Hahaha.

On June 14th, we had the chance to celebrate my birthday. I wasn't really expecting anymore since we have a lot of things to bear in mind first but Daryl, as he always does, want to make sure that I'll get to celebrate my birthday. We were originally planning to eat in Vikings but decided to eat somewhere else to save money.




The past weekend, we celebrated Father's Day in advance. We ate in Bonchon kasi favorite ni Daryl yung Bibimbow nila. Also we bought school supplies for Jami.



We decided to buy Jami's things in Robinson's Las Pinas para maiba lang. We always go to SM Southmall which at times, gets really crowded. I would say that mas madami lang talaga ang options in SM Southmall.



Jami had his first day of school yesterday!! For the past two days that I am observing him, I'll blog about it in a separate post. This is a such a big milestone I have to document it. Hehehe!



While I was really happy with Jami's new endeavor, I am equally happy with Daryl's first day at work. =) He was finally called to start and signed the contract. I know that he's excited with this just like I am.

So there, these are the things that I am really glad about despite of all the trials that the family faces now. To give you a hint, one of it was the "looking for nanny immediately" part. Since Daryl now have a job, no one will look after Jami. We need one really soon! I am hoping we could find one who would really take care of him, yun bang may malasakit.

Oh God! Please help us.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Gigantes Island DIY Travel and Budget Guide with Kids in Tow

Before our trip to Gigantes Island or Isla de Gigantes as some call it, I noticed that most of the blogs and articles are coming from a backpacker. Most of them traveled alone or with friends so it made me really nervous if I can manage to make it a memorable trip with a 3 year old son in tow. Although knowing my sister and Nanay will be there with us, I still had a separation anxiety that Daryl couldn't come with us. It's a first, you know.

So then, I would like to help other Mommies who wishes to travel in Gigantes Island when you are carrying your kids with you. I would like to reiterate that I am no expert and not a pro in traveling. These are only a tip or two to make your travel easier.

How to get to Gigantes Island


1. Take a flight going to Roxas Airport. This is the closest airport to Estancia or Carles which are your entry point to Gigantes Island. From airport, transportation are available to take you to Bancal port in Carles, or Estancia Port.From Bancal, you may take a passenger boat to take you to the island.

2. You could also book a flight to Ilo-ilo International Airport by which will require you 2-3 hours land travel to get to the port. Get the earliest flight since you would need to allot a total of 5 hours to get to Isla de Gigantes. If you are traveling as a family, private vans are available on arrival area of the airport. Don't forget to haggle.

From Estancia port, you can arrange a private boat with your hotel especially if you are traveling as a family. For public transportation, it can cost around Php85-Php100/head. Your choice of hotel probably has a number of options for transfers and island hopping included so you may wish to check with them. In our case, we rented a boat from a relative that served as our transfers and island hopping boat.

Things to do as a Family


Most of the hotels in Isla de Gigantes offer a package from transfers, meals, activities etc. You can either take advantage of it for a worry - free travel or you could DIY your trip just like we did. Since we have very limited time here, packages aren't a good deal for us. Depending on your hotel choice, prices of their packages could range from Php2,000 to Php2,500/head. This is based on the hotel where we stayed so pretty much, the prices around could be the same.

 

1. Island Hopping.

Arrange your activity from your hotel or you could rent a boat separately with a price range of Php2,500-4,500 depending on how many you are in a boat. Tourist guide fee is a standard of Php500.

  • Antonia Beach 



With an entrance fee of Php20/head, you can enjoy the white, fine sand on the other part of the island. Where our boat docked, there were seashells all over so it was kinda hard to walk barefoot.

  • Bantigue Sand Bar


 You can enjoy this sand bar free of charge. With almost fine sand, this place is perfect for beach bumming although be careful with your kids because waves can be pretty strong too.



  • Tangke Saltwater Lagoon

We skipped this due to strong waves. A reason to go back, isn't it? =) Anyway, you can schedule your island hopping in the morning for a chance of a calm water. Best to visit on summer months.
  • Cabugao Gamay

 

 Entrance fee of Php50/head/adult and Php20/head/kids. This place capped off our trip even though we were so sad to skip the Tangke Saltwater Lagoon. As I have mentioned on my previous post, please be very careful in bringing your kids on the view deck. Rocks are very sharp, there aren't any cemented place above that you can walk to and the way up or down can be very steep for them.


2. Old Spanish Lighthouse.

3. Bakwitan Cave


Due to time restrictions, we skipped the last two activities. We were really looking forward to do things as much as possible in a short period of time but I guess we could always go back. =)

Places to Stay:


1. Maruja Flora's Island Resort - located in Cabugao Gamay Island
2. Rosewood Place Resort
3. Arjan Beach Resort - (close on the time of our visit)
4. Gigantes Hideaway Inn

These resorts offer backpacking. Fan and airconditioned rooms are available to some so if you are with your kids, better to get the airconditioned room. You don't want them to be complaining that it's hard to sleep at night because of not having a fan or AC. Lol! Also, electricity are no longer available from 6am up to around 3 or 4pm. I can't be so sure since we arrived nearly 6pm and electricity are already available.

Fan rooms costs Php200-250 while airconditioned rooms range from Php500-1,100.

Itinerary and Budget Guide



Tips: 


  •  You can get the caves on your Day 1 then Island hopping on your next day morning. The rates of boats can vary. The Php6,000 we paid was cheaper than those the hotels provide which ranges from Php7,000 to Php7,500 for 10 persons on a boat.
  • If you are coming from Iloilo, it is suggested that you have your side trip to Guimaras (which I'll blog about too in the coming days) since it's only 15 minutes away thru passenger boat in Guijalo Port. 
  • It is suggested to book a flight from Roxas on your first day going to Isla de Gigantes then get your flight going back to Manila from Ilo-ilo so you could also have a tour around the province or in Guimaras. 
  • Only seafood are available. There might be some meat (pork, chicken or beef) if you request it from the hotel ahead of time. The island boasts their fresh seafood like scallops so why don't you take advantage of that specially if you're a fan of it. 
  • Always ask if the kids can be free-of-charge.  


Just like many wonderful places here in the Philippines, Gigantes Island offers full packed-experience for the whole family so why left the kids at home? Bring them with you next time you plan your out of town trips so they could also learn from the outside world. Traveling is a great way to learn new things for the whole family. =)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Today is my Birthday!!

Time out muna sa pagpo-post about our recent trip!

Today is my 27th birthday!!

This is actually the very first time na I am at work on my birthday.

I was trying to minimize my leave credits because I have another plan to use it in the future. Sagad na sagad kasi ako this year! hahaha.

Anyway, I don't know where we will have a mini celebration but what matters most is that my family is complete, healthy and blessed.

Thank you Lord!



I saw this photo on my facebook memories. This was taken during our visit at Antel Grand Village in 2015.

Look at Jami! This was his fake smile. Heheh

Even so, I loved Daryl's smile here. Genuine yung smile nya, sobrang tuwa nya sa anak nya! hehe.

This birthday was just another normal birthday that I had except that I am at work at this time. I couldn't pass going to work, I love my work and the people around me. =)

Thank you Lord! For all the blessings, for the healthy me and my family, for the people around me! I really couldn't ask for more. Just please please sustain everything especially the happiness, love and  contentment.

To babe for he's always there for me, making me happy and annoyed and loved. For the days that I am not in the mood for everything, PMSing and all. Hehe! For the days I am so pissed at you for a very small or no reason at all. Hehe! Thank you babe, I love you so much! =)

For my families for they never fail to support me all throughout my every journey! For loving me and Jami and Daryl. You are the best family I could ever imagine!


I want to thank all my blog readers too, for your continuous support and never ending love. This blog will never be here without you all. Hugssss!! =)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Gigantes Island DIY Trip

When Jami celebrated his 3rd birthday, his Tita's gift was a back and forth airline ticket for the three of us. Yeeeyyy!!

I was hoping she could do it again this year because I will choose it every time na magbibigay sya ng gift to Jami! hahahah. =D

Anyway, it was a ticket to Ilo-ilo so we could go to Gigantes Island. Later on, she said we'll go to Guimaras and Bacolod too. Talk about 3 provinces in 5 days. Love it! =D


So the long wait is over, we met in Naia Terminal 3. Daryl insisted to take jeep from Pasay Rotonda to airport. Since it was 4 in the morning and there weren't any traffic nor too many people riding the jeep, I agreed to it.

We rode a Jeep with Nichols signage that dropped us off in Terminal 3. I preferred it that way since its cheap and would only require minimal walk from drop off to Departure entrance. We were able to save Php 80-100 versus taking a taxi. By the way, Mader Belen lives in Pasay we usually spend the night there before our flight since it's really close to airport.

We met with my sister and Nanay in Terminal 3. Daryl decided not to go with us on this trip since he was waiting for job confirmation which may come up during our travel period. True enough, they were asked to report in Terminal 3 for final interview on the last day of our trip.

As we arrived an hour and so before our flight, I had my luggage checked in using Ate's baggage allowance, headed of to departure area and waited to board the plane. There were complete silence in the airport at that time. There weren't the usual announcement of flights that you hear left and right.


**
Kwento ko lang, we were actually on the wrong bay waiting for our flight. Since there was a complete silence, wala kaming ka alam-alam. Good thing, Ate tried to check the bay 116 and figured out that it was on the lower ground. Kumaripas kami ng takbo because it was our flight schedule already. Haha! Good thing, hindi pa naman pinapasakay ang mga tao. Lol!

**

During that time pala was the Resort's World Manila Chaos. Since it was across Naia Terminal 3 and the initial news that circulated was terrorism. We were actually talking about where to run in case they head off to airport. Kinda scary, since airport has a lot of people to begin with. Security was tightened during our arrival outside the airport, flights delayed for almost 1 and a half hours too while airport had their security measures taken.

Sabie and Kuya Jami walking hand in hand. Cuties! :D

At around 6:30pm (flight was scheduled at 0450-0520), we were able to board the plane and was told by the attendants that it was due to security of the airport which we understood anyway. However, due to delays, our itinerary would not be followed. See, we had a very tight schedule on our first day so we would have to make an adjustment to it. I bet it was just a guide and not to religiously follow it right? Lol. =D



Jami slept immediately after boarding the plane. It was a good thing because I was really sleepy too due to our early morning flight. But I prefer it that way since you still have plenty of time to do things when you arrived at your destinations rather than arriving late in the afternoon.

buckle up!

We arrived in Ilo-ilo International Airport before 8am. We were super behind the schedules and the boatmen were waiting for us in Estancia. By the way, we have relatives there so my sister and Nanay arranged a boatmen for our transportation to Gigantes Island along with Island hopping too. We were aiming to DIY our trip since it will be a lot cheaper compared to packages being offered by some of the resorts in Gigantes. We paid Php6,000 for the boat transfers and Island hopping.

Just outside the airport, there were locals who would convince you to rent either a private van and taxis. My sister and Nanay spoke to a lady who approached us first. She was offering a private van for almost Php3,000 but my sister and Nanay (who speaks Ilonggo or Hiligaynon) were able to lower it down to Php2,500. Initially, the driver wanted Php2,600, (Php100 goes to parking fee, he said) but managed to stay at Php2,500. To avoid the hassle of transporting with bags/luggages with kids in tow, my sister agreed to it.

Our rented van
With Mr. Sleepyhead
From Ilo-ilo International Airport to Estancia Port will be at least 2-3hours. Ours was a little longer! I don't know why pero parang ilang beses na din akong nagising pero  nasa byahe pa din. I was really tired I was sleeping sa sahig ng van, while Jami slept on the seats. Haha! After 10 years, we arrived in Estancia port were Brother-in-law and our relatives were waiting.

We rode the tricycle to bring us to where our boat's waiting. I lost track of how much the tricycle was because my sister paid for it. To make up with the lost time, we rode the boat after making sure our things were boarded.




Mejo maalon during the time kaya mejo nabasa kami ng very light. We passed by Tabugon Island where Nanay and our relatives from her side lives. I've never been there and I only have pictured it from how Nanay told stories about it.

We arrived in Gigantes Hideaway Inn at past 12noon. We didn't realize that we headed to their resort extension in Bulubadiang Island. We had lunch there which by the way isn't available in their extension since everything is on their main resort unless you've booked it ahead of time. Our relatives brought seafood so we asked the resort to cook it for us. We also ordered their "buffet meal" to add up to our lunch.

Around 2pm, we decided to head on to our Island hopping. We only allotted a day to Gigantes Island so we have to make the best out of it.

ANTONIA BEACH

 Entrance fee: Php50 per head. 

We were on the other part of the island that has a lot of shells. Ang sakit sa paa, Bes! I was barefoot walking so I didn't get the chance to explore more in the island. This photo below was where the fine cream-white sand side which is perfect for beach bumming. I was looking to climb those rock formation but I didn't because there were a lot of people during the time of our visit plus Jami walks really slow. Although he was able to borrow his cousin's aqua shoes, he must've been tired since he didn't get enough sleep the night before.


I would say Antonia Beach is perfect in the late afternoon or sunset.


Beautiful rock formations
I love these rocks but I can't take pictures of it completely. There were a lot of people gathering on the left side of this photo. =(


BANTIGUE SAND BAR

Entrance Fee: Free


That part has a really huge waves!
We swam here for about 10-15 minutes only. Again there were plenty of other tourists on the farther side of the island. I noticed sobrang alat ng tubig! Jami was getting panicky and cries when sea water would get in contact with his eyes. I have been to different places naman pero eto talaga, masakit sya sa mata. Haha! 

CABUGAO GAMAY ISLAND

Entrance Fee: Php50/head (adult); Php20/head (kids). We managed to pay only Php200 for our entrance fee (we were 11 in total including 2 kids and 1 infant) because of relatives know the resort owner. Haha! 

This island is the famous place that you see on the internet when you search for Gigantes Island. I really loved it. It was small but very inviting. White, fine sand, fresh air, wonderful view? What could you ask for. I guess this sealed off this travel for us. 


You have to climb/trek a big rock (the one in our background) where locals managed to create wood stairs to make it easier for guests. It's strictly 3-5 minutes per group to give way to other visitors who would want to see the lovely view and take pictures on their deck. 


Please be very careful when you bring small kids with you. The stairs are steep and this places aren't for playing. I was really scared for Jami since the rocks are sharp at some point, plus there were only woods that covers the view deck. I was really lucky to have my relatives who followed us on view deck. They helped me with Jami a lot. 

This photo wasn't my favorite but I have to post it for you to see how dangerous it is for the kids.So parental guidance is advised. haha!
Syempre di tayo papakabog! :D
 During our way up, I saw a rest place probably for people who are waiting in line while other visitors take pictures in the deck. I know I have to check out what's in there. 


 It was another picture taking spot. I guess it's perfect during sunrise or early morning.

We also spent some time swimming and feeding little fishes with bread. 


It was 5pm when we left. We were looking forward to go to Tangke Saltwater Lagoon but our boatmen said na malakas daw ang alon so we can't go there at all. Huhu! So sad. My sister said we'll go back there next year! Lol. It was another reason to go back anyway. =)

We headed back to our hotel, Gigantes Hideaway Inn for an overnight stay.Washed up and had dinner in the hotel. 

We woke up early the next day so we could leave the island and head back to Ilo-ilo for our Guimaras trip. We rode Habal-habal to reach the boat since it's low tide and can't get closer in front of Hideaway Inn. We have to skip the Bakwitan Cave and the lighthouse due to lack of time.
On our way back to Estancia, they have decided na dumaan sa Tabugon Island. Besides, I personally wanted to meet my Lola whom I have never seen. 

The tres marias and the queen! Lol.
We were back in Estancia around 12 noon and headed straight back to Ilo-ilo. My sister took their car from Manila thru Fastcat so we could save on van transfers. It was a good idea right? 

So there, stay tuned for my super pilit na travel guide hahaha! and our Gigantes Hideaway inn overnight accommodation.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Gigantes - Guimaras - Bacolod Trip

Hi everyone!

I was out for the last 5 days because we had our major trip this year!=)

When I say major, yun yung mga sumasakay ng airplane. Hahahah! Or at least the farthest and longest vacation.

Anyway, My sister's gift to Jami was a plane ticket to Ilo-ilo. I was really happy, it's been ages since the last time we went on a trip like this together! (Last one was in 2013 - Puerto Princesa, Palawan). The only sad part was, Daryl couldn't join us on the trip because he was waiting for job confirmation. That was far more important than this trip so he was left behind.

If you have been following me on IG at @its_mommy_jen, you'll see that I have been uploading photos of our trip and don't forget to follow me. =)

My sister provided the itinerary. I always let her work on everything on all of our trips. It was always her that's very knowledgeable of all the places to visit so join lang ako ng join. Hehehe!

A post shared by Jen Alipio (@its_mommy_jen) on

A post shared by Jen Alipio (@its_mommy_jen) on


Yes! You read it right. The time of our flight was when the Resorts World Attack happened. There were news circulating at the time that it was the bad group. I told you the airport departure area was so strict. The whole place was really quite and there were no announcement of what's going on. Our flight was delayed for an hour.

Day 1



It was for Islas de Gigantes. Our relatives from Nanay's side of the family joined us for our overnight stay. We even passed on their island on our way back to Estancia port the next day.

Day 2


We were supposed to be on a more tiring day but my sister decided to take the day off. Besides, we lack sleep the day before and Sabie was not feeling well too.



Day 3


We had our Day tour in Guimaras Island.



That same day, we rode fast cat going to Bacolod City.


Day 4



This day was one relax day, I would say. Hindi kami humada ng tours. We went to Silay houses including Balay Negrense.

Day 5


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The night of our 5th day was also our return flight to Manila. This travel was one of the most memorable one because Jami and I traveled together without his Daddy and our flight back was just the two of us with one 13kgs luggage, one backpack and some pasalubong.

All in all, I am very happy that all went well during the trip. We had the chance to travel far with relatives. Although it's really tiring and quite haggard, I would love it like that than a trip with nothing but beds and breakfast. =)

I'll blog about our trips to these islands and tourist spots separately.

Cheers to more travels!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Learned How to use Bicycle

Would you believe it?

From the title itself, I learned how to bike at the age of 26.

Nakakaawa no?! Hahaha.

Yeah, although people thought I was kidding when I posted this photo on my IG and Facebook account.



But seriously, ngayon lang ako natutuong mag bike and I loved it soooo much! I want to buy a bike na. Hahahah!

I was born poor so mainly, my parents can't buy a bicycle for us. We were 5 siblings so imagine the riot if they only buy one bike for all of us. Lol! When I was in high school, a friend owns one but I was too scared to use it. I had a lot of scars on my legs and I don't want to add more into it. I heard you'll get one before you learned how to use bicycle.

Fast forward to earlier this month, I joined my sister and my niece's jogging session. They go to Commerce Center in Alabang where the place offers a good ambiance for joggers and bikers. There are hardly any cars in that area so you could really have some fitness/fun/family time.


This was near Parque Espana in Alabang. There's also a bicycle for rent so I was surprised my sister want to rent for us to use. I was really scared at first and I have to try and try until I finally found the pace and the balance. It was the balancing that I was scared of but hey, I managed to face my fears didn't I?

I was so glad that finally, I felt free. Lol! I always thought ang sarap siguro mag bike and it was true! I am now aiming to buy just a normal entry level bicycle that I could use when I feel like it.

While in the process of learning how to bike, I kept telling myself that I can do things when I want to. That it's never too late to do things that you like and you are never too old for anything. In a matter of 1 hour, I learned the basics and can now use the bicycle. I know it was very mababaw and simple things but I proved to myself that I can do things when I put my mind into it. Biking scares me before, but I am bigger than my fears! And yeah, I did it. The next day, my whole body aches and I have bruises on my legs, as in a lot of them. Yung tipong para akong binugbog because tumatama yung binti ko in the pedal. Hahahah!


I would now like to have a bike for me, Daryl and a new one for Jami as he has outgrown his baby bike. I want to get one for him that has a wheel trainer at the back and a basic entry level for me. Daryl knows how to bike so definitely he could have his intermediate or advanced bike, if there's such. Lol! We could go here again for some biking/fitness/family time, can't we? I kept telling myself that I won't let Jami and my future kids not to learn how to use bicycle when they're younger. Hahaha!

I have been bugging my team leader about bicycles since he owns once and uses it to go to work. He's been giving me a tip or two about bikes and I am really excited to get one when our  budget allows. =)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Manila Zoo Visit for our 10th Year Anniversary

This is a long overdue post (July last year) but I think this still deserves to be posted. I have been looking for the photos that we took but I really can't find them. Anyway, they weren't that nice because of the resolution of the camera.

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As Daryl and I celebrated our 10 years together, he asked me where I wanted to go. Since I have been working on our budget, I realized the we don't have a spare money to use for our anniversary. I know this day is also important so as our budget. I explained that we can only go to places that we can afford. Couple of weeks ago, we asked Jami if he wants to see an elephant and he said yes so I suggested we'll just visit the Manila Zoo.

It has been a while since I went there so I want to re-visit the place. I know for sure that Jami would enjoy seeing new animals. I also looked forward to seeing the elephant because I heard that it was too old already. I won't be able to bring Jami in Indonesia yet to see a live elephant so I guess this will be an excuse. Hahah!

We reached the zoo at 3:30pm. I was quite nervous because I don't know their operating hours and I was thinking na baka close na sila. We had a little trouble with parking since there were a lot of visitors on weekends. I also heard that entrance fee are quite expensive compared before specially for those who are not residence of Manila. We were charged Php100/each while Jami was free.

Upon entrance, we were so giddy to see the elephant! Lol! He was hiding at the back part of his home so we have to go on the side to see him up close. I bet Jami got surprised na malaki pala ang elephants in real life. Hahah! He doesn't want to go near him, he was a little scared! But good job to our baby he's so happy to see the elephant. We even saw him eating bunch of leaves. It was amazing!! Lol. I never thought I would appreciate these things. Ganun ata talaga if you have a kid, you'll be delighted because you know that they're happy and curious. =)

We went around the place and saw the hippopotamus. At first, he's submerged in the water. But later on was called by an animal keeper to make him eat while a group of tourists were inside the cage watching the hippo closely. He would open his mouth so the keeper could put cabbage and even corn inside his mouth. I can't believe the hippo looked like that, parang ang bigat ng katawan!

We saw more animals like Monkeys, Crocodiles, Hebra (it was crossed breed by a horse and a zebra), deers, tigers, different kinds of birds, Owls, Fishes etc. I was so glad to be able to see those animals again. It's not everyday that we could get to see them. I am just sad that the Lion can't be found. I don't know if the lion I saw years ago died already but we can't find him there. Also, I was told that an orangutan was there too years ago but not there when we went.

The night before our visit, I checked Manila Zoo's Facebook page to check their operating hours but what I saw was mostly negative feedback about the zoo. I was saddened and hesitated to go too but we still gave it a shot to see how it looked on our own perspective. Well, honestly, I never been to another zoo before so I don't have anything to compare with.I would say that the zoo was kind of sad and weren't maintained religiously. I hope they could look after those animals more because it's saddening to see them in a state that weren't so happy.

Anyway, for a quick getaway, you can visit Manila zoo for the benefit of your kids to see those animals that they rarely see in the metro.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Day Tour at Stilts Calatagan plus Budget Guide

On Mother's Day, we went to Stilts in Calatagan, Batangas. I have been looking to have some beach time over the past weeks and it was a last minute decision to pick Stilts.

I was looking for a nice resort in Batangas for months and I am really eyeing the Aquaria Beach and Waterpark resort. I found an all day pass on a discounted price but still find it expensive for a day tour. I am looking for a place where we could enjoy the beach and lounge on swimming pools at some point too.

As far as I can remember, Stilts offers a wonderful place to stay but with a very stiff price. I have read blogs about it and it looked really nice. It's on my radar for quite some time but can't afford to stay overnight.

As I said, on last minute, I came across Stilts Calatagan and their day tour rates when I searched for cheap day tours in Batangas. I was so glad to see that it's affordable despite of their expensive nightly rates. I immediately texted them and asked about their day tours. The person whom I exchange text message with (didn't get the chance to know his/her name and he/she didn't bother to introduce his/herself too) was every accommodating. He/She answered all my questions and was very prompt specially during the booking process.

I want to schedule our day tour on a Saturday, May 13, but was told they are fully booked. Good thing, they could still accommodate us the next day which was on Mother's Day! Yehey!! =) The only thing is that they no longer have huts available except their cozy nook.

I took it so we could push through with it. It was very timely to have a celebration anyway. =)

I was sent an email to reserve my slots and was asked to deposit 50% downpayment. Since it was on a Friday and I can't go to the nearest bank, I asked if I could just fund transfer which they agreed. I sent the screen shot of the deposit and immediately received a confirmation email of my booking.

We don't have a private car so we decided to commute our way to Calatagan.


How to Commute to Stilts Calatagan

We came from Pasay so from Mcdonalds in MRT Taft station, a terminal of buses to some parts of Luzon and Visayas are available. I asked about a bus going straight to Calatagan but was told there were no available buses to take us there. They offered to ride Nasugbu bound instead.

From MRT Taft Station, our bus took the Emilio Aguinaldo Highway in Cavite. The bus got so crowded in some part of Cavite up to Tagaytay so better to go on their terminals to secure seats. Bus fare from Pasay to Lian is Php150+ pesos. After 2 and a half hours of bus ride, we dropped off at 711 in Lian, Batangas. We walked on a street before it and saw the jeepney and tricycle terminal. We rode a jeep going to Calatagan Market that took about an hour. Jeepney fare was Php38.When we arrived in Calatagan Market, we bought mineral water and looked for a tricycle to take us to Stilts. Tricycle ride is Php40/head.

Tip: There are other bus terminal around metro manila that you can go to. There are van in Metropoint in MRT Taft too that could take you to Calatagan for a higher price. You could also choose to go to Buendia since bus from Calatagan to Manila have terminal there or go to bus terminal in Coastal Mall (update - Macapagal terminal). In that way. you can avoid the hassle of commuting longer and save time and energy for your day tour. Alabang also has a terminal in South Station for buses bound to Batangas.

Start of Day Tour

We arrived at Stilts around 9:30am. The guard asked us for our name and checked the reservations. There was another guard shortly after and it was our tricycle driver who advised them of our booking. The driver dropped us off on the resort's make-shift place for reception. There are probably a lot of visitors that day so they decided to have a tent to accommodate groups of people conveniently. They offered a welcome drink and made us pay the Environmental fee of Php30/pax. We also paid the remaining amount due, gave us a map and directed us to Harmony Beach where day tours mostly stay. They offer a free van ride to any point in the beach for you to conveniently bring your bags. I am surprised though that they didn't inspect our bags to check if we brought cooked food. The receptionist only asked if we have cooked meals with us.



We looked for the cozy nook which can be pretty easy to find because of the big trees that served as a shade from the scorching heat of the sun.

Cozy Nook 1
Sorry I don't have a much nicer photo of their cozy nook as we put all of our things immediately when we arrived. Here's how it looked like from their website.

source
 This is exactly how it looked like except that tire-swing which was on the other side of the tree. It was the perfect spot since it was close to the beach, we could watch Jami while he's swimming plus that big tree that shields us from direct sunlight. I would say that it was really worth the amount we paid for that spot. I prefer this rather than the nipa hut as it can get a little humid dahil magsisiksikan kayo sa loob. The cozy nook offered us what we need - the beach, the sand, a little of the sun and the fresh breeze of the air.

When we finally settled down, Jami wanted to swim agad so off he went with his playmate, Kuya Angelo. We were starving so we went to their restaurant to check the menu. Food ranges from Php250-450 good for sharing (2-3 persons). They would allow day tours to bring food but with a corkage of Php 200 per head for any cooked/heavy meal food. Breads, chips, spread etc won't be charged. We were considering of just bringing in food but since we will be commuting, we decided to buy from their restaurant instead. I would say that the prices are comparable to Max's restaurant however, I didn't enjoy the food that much. Although it tastes okay but nothing spectacular.


 They delivered our food to our nook earlier than lunch time which was fine because we were starving at that point. It took probably around 30-45 minutes earlier than what we expected it to be. We thought it will be delivered to us around 12noon.


After lunch, we immediately went to swim in their pool. I wasn't surprise to see that there were a lot of people during our visit, it's Summer months and Mother's Day too.


The deepest pool height was around 6ft. The farthest pool on this photo was the kiddie pool. I would say that Jami enjoyed the pool so much. As long as he's wearing his borrowed vest from his cousin, he can be left alone. But then, we're not taking any risk so we have either Daryl or his cousin and Kuya Angelo to look after Jami. By the way, their restaurant is located on your right in the photo above. We stayed in their pool for good 30 minutes to 1 hour.

After some photo session with the gang, we decided to eat snacks and enjoy the beach. We were blessed with a weather that's cloudy so it wasn't that harsh to our skins. Just before we decided to head back to our nook, we saw the opportunity for some photo ops.





This was a view deck of their cottages. There were wooden tables and chairs for day tours. It's across their restaurant.

We suddenly wish to go near the cottages. On our way down, we saw a sign that day tours are not allowed to go there but everyone's so busy, we went anyway. Talk about matitigas ang ulo! hahaha.

The farthest cottage

The view
We didn't get the chance to see the cottages inside but some of them have hammocks outside perfect to lounge and watch the horizon. Wow! May ganun?

After our photo op, we went back to our nook to eat merienda. I couldn't believe that Jami's enjoying the place so much. He doesn't want to leave the water. I was kinda worried since he's skipping snacks already so we asked him to sit down for a while and eat. Pahirapan pa talaga. Haha!


I loved how calm and shallow their beach was. It's perfect for families so as not to worry about the safety of the kids. Although please keep in mind to look after them at all times. You don't want to risk their safety right?

They also have this part of the beach where beach weddings could be facilitated.During our stay, a group of men were preparing the venue so we took the chance to take some pictures.

You take nice pictures of them, when it's their time to take your photo.. never mind. =D
By the way, Stilts is well maintained. You can see it in their restroom. It's clean and has a separate shower area and restroom. It has a good supply of water and have place to put your things inside the shower area.

Restrooms/Shower Areas are on the right side of the photo
We ordered plenty of food for our lunch and brought breads, chips and bottled water with no corkage fee. It lasted us for merienda so we didn't order food from their restaurant anymore.

Jami wants to go back to the beach
 It was a sad thing that this is the only photo of the three of us here in Stilts. Mostly, it's me with Daryl or me and Jami. Eto ang nag iisang photo, hindi pa maayos. Haha!

At around 3pm, we decided to swim in the beach to get the feel of it and I would say that I enjoyed it too. The sand was white and fine while the water is clear.  I was hoping we have plenty of time to roam around, enjoy the beach and the place. I know that Stilts is a really big property and has a lot of picture perfect place to visit.

Last photo before going home
We left Stilts before 4pm so we could catch the bus from Calatagan to Manila. For summer months, Bus terminal in Calatagan extends up to 6pm for their last trip due to the amount of people going there versus their usual trip of 4pm.

Pros

1. Affordable. For the price of Php385/head, the place is more than it's worth. Kids 6 and below are free of charge.
2. Resort and Beach area are well maintained. They offer a lot of accommodation for a day tour, you just need to reserve upon booking.
3. Free use of pool and beach area included in the entrance fee.
4. Free ride from your cottage to the entrance of the resort. Although you can opt to walk if you still have the energy to do so.
5. Staff are accommodating. From booking process to the actual day of our tour. There were securities roaming around and staff that cleans the beach from time to time.
6. Very close to Manila, perfect for short vacations.
7. You can ask the tricycle driver to pick you up when you are ready to leave the resort. They would usually offer since there were no ways of commuting around the area. The kuya who drove us to Stilts left his mobile number to text him when we are ready to be picked up.

Cons

1. Food tastes okay.Nothing spectacular though for it's price. I hope they could improve on their Sinigang. =)
2. For commuters, you have to cut your day tour short on non Summer months due to buses last trip is at 4pm. If you have a private car then you could stay until 6pm and wait for sunset. 

I can't think of anything else that needs to improve on. I just hope they maintain the service they give at all times as Stilts is a wonderful place to stay. 

Budget



You will be able to save some if you ride the bus that goes straight to Calatagan instead of riding the Nasugbu bound. Also, I put Php500 for the food but it is adjustable depending on how many food you order. I would say that it would only be for lunch since you could bring light food and water inside the resort without corkage. Bring bread, spread and snacks to save some money as resort prices could be thrice the regular price. If you wish to bring your own cooked food or grill them in the resort, you could do so by paying Php200/head corkage fee.Charge for Cozy Nook or Nipa hut can be divided with your group so it will be a lot cheaper.

Do I recommend Stilts?

Definitely a big Yes! It was a very nice place and day tour doesn't even catch everything that the place has to offer. I hope we could stay longer but we have to go back to Manila for work. I say this is a place we could always come back for some short vacation.


Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort
Calatagan, 4215 Batangas, Philippines
+639175863343